Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Improving Catchers Performance

Controlling the Running Game

To challenge catchers to react to base stealers that are practicing stolen base attempts during simulated at-bats to different bases.      

Players in the Field:   
A regular infield should take their positions with two catchers working behind the plate.       

Players running the Bases:      
Outfielders and pitchers should act like baserunners during this drill.
A regular infield should take the field with two catchers working behind the plate.  Two pitchers, each possessing a ball, should take the mound as well.  Outfielders and pitchers, working as baserunners, should be stationed at first and second base.  One extra group will be first base also.  One pitcher will be on the mound, while the second pitcher will be to the side, ready to take the mound after the other pitcher delivers to the plate.  At each base, the runners will take their leads, while the pitcher comes into the set position.  The runners on the pitcher will practice stealing second and third base.  Furthermore, on the pitch, the extra group of baserunners at first base will practice their secondary lead, which should be three hard shuffle steps.  While the players are stealing or getting their secondary leads, the coach will verbally communicate which base the catcher will throw the ball.  The baserunners will practice all elements of the steal like the lead, jump, and slide.  The other infielders will react to the baserunner in traditional fashion, covering the base they are responsible.  After the catcher has thrown, they will quickly rotate with the next catcher behind the plate.  The pitchers also will switch out with one another quickly.  Pitchers always need to possess a ball during these drills, so the drill can be performed quickly.          

This drill can be adapted to fit any coach’s baserunning or defensive scheme objectives.  The baserunners have a lot of variations at their bases including delayed steals or first move steals on left handed pitchers.  Also, secondary leads on second base can be practiced by runners as well.  Defensively, this drill can help catchers improve their reaction to pitched balls with runners on base.  By waiting for the coach’s command catchers will get a game-like situation where they must respond with quickness and efficiency.  Furthermore, infielders will improve their knowledge of responsibilities associated with covering the base on steal attempts.  Also, they can work on tag quickness and stability.  Finally, coaches can even incorporate pitch counts to the drill forcing the pitcher to throw one or two strikes before the runners attempt to steal. Even breaking ball strikes can be included to enhance the drill.               

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